Monday, Oct 23, 2017
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Restaurant Reviews

RESTAURANT REVIEW

Focaccia's satisfies New York-sized appetites

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    The New York, New York Reuben-style sandwich with pastrami and corned beef from Focaccia's Deli in downtown Toledo.

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    Sandwiches and salads at Focaccia's Deli.

    The Blade
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At Focaccia’s Delicatessen in downtown Toledo, mountains of meat and cheese await the hungriest of diners.

The informal deli and bakery opened by Ed Beczynski in 2001 and tucked away in the HCR Manor Care building on Summit Street is not for the faint of appetite. So come with a love of food, and steel yourself for the strong possibility that dinner will not be necessary.

Focaccia’s is a staple that caters to the downtown breakfast and lunch crowd, and we recommend you stick with the salads or sandwiches with the homemade chips for the best lunch experience.

On a recent date, we started out with Black and Bleu chips ($5.99). The in-house fried chips were topped with cajun seasoning, melted blue cheese crumbles, and chunks of real bacon. It was a tasty beginning.

Then it was on to the deli sandwich experience.

The New York, New York ($9.48) was piled high with corned beef and pastrami and coleslaw. A minor complaint was that it could have been slightly more delicious had it been grilled between a press.

I ordered a side of thousand island to slather on it and it was clearly homemade, with a thick sour cream base. Find a way to use one of their many homemade dressings.

A dining companion ordered the Holy Toledo ($7.49). The mouth watering sandwich included fresh sliced turkey, bacon, lettuce, and tomato smeared with mayonnaise, all held in place by freshly baked focaccia bread.

It’s enormous size was more than my lunching friend could handle, which he claimed wasn’t a bad thing, but leads me to a vital suggestion: When it comes to the two sizes of sandwiches, sticking with the smaller version is the way to go.

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but there is such a thing as too much meat. On a second visit, friends opted to “super size” their sandwiches to the New York City size offered on the menu.

The NYC-sized Reuben ($13.18), which can come with corned beef, pastrami, chicken, or turkey, is a delightful mess you’ll surrender to with a knife and fork. A lunch companion ordered it with the corned beef. His only beefs were it needed more Swiss cheese to balance out the massive amount of meat, and the corned beef needed a little more seasoning since it was a little on the bland side (see vital suggestion above, with wisecrack about too much meat).

The NYC-sized Little Italy ($11.49) is a stomach-pleasing and belt-stretching mountain of a sandwich — a mound of shaved ham and salami, topped with roasted red peppers, crowned with melted provolone cheese and fresh pesto, and served between thick, fresh focaccia bread — that defies even the biggest appetites to finish in one sitting.

Focaccia’s Delicatessen

★★★½

Address: 333 N. Summit St.

Phone: 419-246-3354.

Category: Casual.

Menu: American.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Reservations are accepted.

Wheelchair access: yes.

Average Price: $$

Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.

Website: focacciasdeli.com

Star ratings are based on comparison of similar restaurants.

I’m not usually a big fan of fruit in my salads but spied a chicken fruit salad ($8.59) at the next table and went for it. The salad was a delightful combination of greens, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, feta cheese, red onion and slivered almonds lost under a mountain of chicken. The homemade poppyseed dressing brought it home.

Focaccia’s also offers daily soups and specials and has a list of Favorites for those looking for more than the standard deli fare.

Under the Focaccia Favorites, the West Bank ($7.29) — a mountain of corned beef between two potato cakes — is fabulous. The potato cakes are perfectly crispy on the outside and soft in the middle and the corned beef was just salty enough. A side of sour cream complemented the “sandwich” well.

The beef barley soup ($2.79 for a cup, $3.49 for a bowl) is a rich medley of flavors with large chunks of pot roast, fresh mushrooms, tomatoes, and more, and the creamy thick white chicken chili ($2.99) was also a hit.

The staff was friendly and quick on both visits, which added to the positive experience.

Not everything at Focaccia's works. One lunch companion ordered the day’s special, lasagna ($7.95), which came with a small Caesar salad and the requisite namesake foccacia bread. The portion was generous enough, but he found the noodles overcooked and the meat sauce uninspired. He said its greatest flaw was being served lukewarm rather than hot, noting, as his grandma often opined, that temperature matters.

The homemade chips are a good crunchy diversion from the mainstays and a must with every sandwich over the other sides offered, but don’t bother with a chocolate-chip cookie $1.29) for dessert. It lacked the sugar boost to sate a sweet tooth craving.

The homemade cheesecake ($4.19), however, is a completely different story. With an inch and half of crust, it was possibly the best I’ve ever had, and the server was more than willing to accommodate us with the fresh strawberry topping we requested, after making her way to the kitchen and realizing they were out.

She made the topping herself before bringing the treat to our table.

“Treat others the way you want to be treated,” she quipped.

Contact Bill of Fare at: fare@theblade.com.

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